Any album that starts off with the words “She is a bad bitch, made out of magic”, is a guaranteed winner in my eyes. LM5, unsurprisingly Little Mix’s fifth album, opens with a 30 second introductory track titled The National Manthem. Setting the tone for the album, this track presents a group of women who are here to tell it how it is. To put it in the most unprofessional terms possible, this album is the definition of big dick energy.
LM5 is a step up from anything Little Mix have ever done before. Their pop sound is more mature and confident; the album is far from bubbly or unsure, with their sound being strengthened by R&B elements woven throughout. The album is earmarked throughout with features from other artists: Nicki Minaj, Sharaya J, Kamille and Cheat Codes all make their own stamp on the album, providing pockets of fresh air while not breaking LM5’s sonic cohesion.
Like most girl bands, Little Mix are at their strongest when singing ‘girl power’ anthems. It is no surprise, therefore, that highlights from LM5 include Woman Like Me, Joan of Arc, Love a Girl Right and Wasabi. Following The National Manthem’s theme, the majority of these tracks avoid presenting male attention as central to a woman’s life: “if I’m loving you it’s cause I can” (Joan of Arc) is one of the most empowering earworms in recent pop music, and is an attitude that seems to be permeating the charts at the moment. Wasabi is perhaps the most divisive of these anthems due to it’s quirky beat and vocals. It’s more electronic based than the rest of the album, with a strong beat that is almost reminiscent of Azealia Banks’ 212. Featuring the lyrics “lick me up I’m sweet and salty”, there is the potential for controversy amongst parents of their younger fanbase, but this ultimately embodies Little Mix’s newfound empowering confidence.
Amongst the upbeat girl power anthems are some classic Little Mix breakup ballads, too. Told You So, following in this style, is one of the best songs they have ever produced. It is often easy to for the girls’ impressive vocals to become lost admist the electronic beats of their pop bangers, but here the acoustic guitar gives them space to shine. We are treated to some typical Little Mix harmonies, and each band member takes a verse which really suits their style. I love that this break-up song is, again, all about the girls and the strength that can be found within friendship: “We can put the kettle on / Talk ‘bout how he’s not the one / I told you / But I’m never gonna say I told you so”. It’s the perfect mix of post-breakup sadness, strength, and hopefulness.
The weaker tracks on the album are those which aren’t as confidently or uniquely Little Mix. Forget You Not, for example, could have been performed by anyone, tinged with the annoyances of mainstream radio. Woman’s World’s title hints at something substantial, but its lyrics are drowned out by overbearing electropop – it would have been far better suited to a more stripped back instrumental. Where LM5 is strong, it’s really strong, and where it’s weak, it’s really weak. It had the potential to be one of those albums where you don’t feel like skipping any tracks, but these duds dilute the exceptional tracklist with some of the group’s worst moments.
LM5 is, overall, a strong pop album with a great message. It is a girl power album which takes absolutely no shit, promotes sex positivity and body confidence, doing so all whilst making you want to dance and sing along. It’s the girl band’s first album produced away from Syco and is the first time they’ve all been listed as executive producers. If this is what Little Mix can do when given complete control, I can’t wait to see more.